William H.A. Willbond MSM, CD

THE LAST CANADIAN VC

Smokey Smith, VC
Smokey Smith, VC
Can you hear the piper’s tunes of Glory?
Many of us Canadians are crying
Herewith is the Smokey Smith poetry Story
bout battlefields and soldiers dying

Ernie Smokey Alvin Smith he hailed from BC
A true Canadian, a strong spirit and free
He took out a tank, used a Tommy MG
Saved a comrade’s life and won the VC

They CB’d young Smokey – why do you think?
‘Cause they knew that Smith liked to take a drink!
They stopped him from going out on a fling
‘Cause they wanted him sober when he met the King

Smokey just died, he was ninety one
He said wearing the VC was a lot of fun
Over to Officers he would often run
They’d salute his medal – it was a great pun!

Smokey liked Las Vegas and he loved the slots
And you all know Smokey like to drink a lot
Those drinks were free and he was filled with glee
And the girls look pretty when your on a spree!

From Private to Sergeant he went up and down
And he often as not made his CO frown
He retired from the Army at the end of the day
A hero to generations of soldiers along the way

Canada’s last VC, Smokey is now at rest
Smokey Ernie Smith he was one of our best!
When the highlander’s pipes play his last lament
Many’s the arm with scotch whiskey will be bent

Author’s Note: RIP SMOKEY MY FRIEND – We have too few Canadian Heroes left!

List of Abbreviations to assist civilians who are reading the attached poem about Sergeant (Retired) Ernie Alvin Smith, VC known to generations of soldiers as “Smokey Smith”

  • CB’d: confined to barracks
  • VC: The Victoria Cross – the Commonwealth’s highest award for courage in action in the face of the enemy and heroic acts that save lives and aid and abet unit victory.
  • BC: British Columbia
  • MG: Machine Gun (hand held Tommy gun; Smokey actually took out the Jerry tank with a
  • PIAT (Projector, Infantry, Anti Tank) but used the Tommy gun to kill four Germans whilst dragging his wounded comrade to safety.
  • CO: Commanding Officer
  • RIP: Rest in Peace

The London Gazette, 20th December 1944

Smokey Smith, VCIn Italy on the night of 21st-22nd October 1944, a Canadian Infantry Brigade was ordered to establish a bridgehead across the Savio River. The Seaforth Highlanders of Canada were selected as the spearhead of the attack, and in weather most unfavourable to the operation they crossed the river and captured their objective in spite of strong opposition from the enemy.

Torrential rain had caused the Savio River to rise six feet in five hours, and as the soft vertical banks made it impossible to bridge the river no tanks or anti-tank guns could be taken across the raging stream to the support of the rifle companies.

As the right forward company was consolidating its objective, it was suddenly counter-attacked by a troop of three Mark V Panther tanks supported by two self-propelled guns and about thirty infantry, and the situation appeared hopeless.

Under heavy fire from the approaching enemy tanks, Private Smith, showing great initiative and inspiring leadership, led his P.I.A.T. Group of two men across an open field to a position from which the P.I.A.T. could best be employed. Leaving one man on the weapon, Private Smith crossed the road with a companion and obtained another P.I.A.T. Almost immediately an enemy tank came down the road firing its machine-guns along the line of the ditches. Private Smith’s comrade was wounded. At a range of thirty feet and having to expose himself to the full view of the enemy, Private Smith fired the P.I.A.T. and hit the tank, putting it out of action. Ten German infantry immediately jumped off the back of the tank and charged him with Schmeissers and grenades. Without hesitation Private Smith moved out on the road and with his Tommy gun at point-blank range, killed four Germans and drove the remainder back. Almost immediately another tank opened fire and more enemy infantry closed in on Smith’s position. Obtaining some abandoned Tommy gun magazines from a ditch he steadfastly held his position, protecting his comrade and fighting the enemy with his Tommy gun until they finally gave up and withdrew in disorder.

One tank and both self-propelled guns had been destroyed by this time, but yet another tank swept the area with fire from a longer range. Private Smith, still showing utter contempt for enemy fire, helped his wounded friend to cover and obtained medical aid for him behind a nearby building. He then returned to his position beside the road to await the possibility of a further enemy attack.

No further immediate attack developed, and as a result the battalion was able to consolidate the bridgehead position so vital to the success of the whole operation, which led to the capture of San Giorgio Di Cesena and a further advance to the Ronco River.

Thus, by the dogged determination, outstanding devotion to duty and superb gallantry of this private soldier, his comrades were so inspired that the bridgehead was held firm against all enemy attacks, pending the arrival of tanks and anti-tank guns some hours later.